Five Simple Ways to Mark Earth Day by Building Environmental Equity

There can be no sustainability without equity. Here are some ideas for creating both.

By Hatty Lee Apr 24, 2011

This weekend marks the 41st Earth Day and the theme is "A Billion Acts of Green"–a people-powered campaign to generate a billion global acts of environmental service and advocacy by the 2012 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. And from New Dehli to Detroit, any effort to create sustainability necessarily includes one to create environmental equity. 

We see this as communities of color fight against toxic landfills, nuclear waste and other pollutants being dumped on their homes. We see it in the creation of urban and community gardens to gain access to fresh and healthy foods. There is the fight for sustainable and affordable housing, so our kids are no longer getting asthma and other serious diseases due to mold in shoddy housing developments. And these are just a few examples, there is so much more going in our communities.

To celebrate Earth Day this year, we came up with a list of five simple ways you can help fight for environmental justice and equity within your own community. Please add more in the comments section.  

Join your local community garden. Community supported gardens provide access to healthy food for low-income residents. Also, you get to know the beautiful people in your own neighborhood.

(Photo: Creative Commons/mirnanda)

Shop at the farmer’s market. Support local farmers and their families, while getting fresh food in exchange. 

(Photo: Creative Commons/thewestend)

Organize an event in your community. Educate residents about recycling, food justice, water justice, or plant a tree. You can get resources from Green the Block.

(Photo: Creative Commons/

Create a neighborhood mural. For all the artists and creative folks out there, team up other local artists and youth organizations to create artwork about environmental justice. Images are powerful education tools, and also beautify the community.

(Photo: Estria Foundation)

Beautify your neighborhood. Something as simple as planting trees can make a difference. Plan a day with other neighborhood folks to clean up trash, plant trees and bring the community together. As they are trying to do in Harlem, members of the W. 144th Street Block Association are working on a "Fewer Rats, More Trees" movement

(Photo: Creative Commons/ennuipoet)